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The usage of nouns in Dutch languague (e.g. plural)


Plural forms of nouns

The plurals of most nouns are formed by putting '-en' or '-s' at the end (but of course there are exceptions to the rule). By far most nouns get '-en', so if you're in doubt...

This page (in English) summarizes 7 rules that you can apply to see if the plural ends in '-s'.

But even these rules aren't carved in stone. Somebody asked me about the words tentamen (a kind of exam) and reden (reason).

Since both words end in '-en', and don't have the emphasis at the last syllable (italic is emphasis), rule 3 at the abovementioned page seems to apply to both words, so the plural should end in '-s'. Still, the plural of reden is redenen.

I asked about this at a forum, and it appears that some people (even in ancient texts) *do* use redens. It's the same as with appel. According to rule 3 again, almost everybody says appels, but some people say appelen.

So the rules are guidelines. I doubt whether it's wise to start memorizing them, since there are a lot of rules for a lot of things. Just use '-en' when you totally don't know, and otherwise learn by experience.


Finally, there are some totally different endings. You can find some on this page (English).

Example: kind - kinderen (children).

Words with '-en' plural

These are described on this page (English).


Words with '-s' plural

These are described on this page (English).

The main problem here is that words that end in a 'long vowel' (those that are pronounced like 'aa', 'oo', 'uu') get an extra apostrophe before the '-s'.

So it's: auto - auto's. Otherwise the 'o' would become a short sound.

The 'e' is an exception, because it's often pronounced like a 'mute e' (like in de). In that case no apostrophe is necessary.

Example: lengte - lengtes (length(s)).

When can you omit a particle before a noun?

This is explained on the following Dutch pages: on the site of OnzeTaal (short) and on the site of Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst (long).

You always use a particle except for 5 cases, but I will only discuss the most common ones.


© Henk Dalmolen
Reageer via E-mail (dalmolen@xs4all.nl)

Deze pagina is voor het laatst gewijzigd op: 1-4-2013 18:50:14